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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000255
Letters to the Editor

A Proposal to Reduce Misrepresentation of Medical Student Research Activities in ERAS

Grimm, Lars MD, MHS; Maxfield, Charles MD

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Resident physician, Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina; lars.grimm@duke.edu.

Professor, Departments of Radiology and Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

In our recent article,1 we presented data on the high rate of inaccurate reporting of manuscript publications by residency applicants and argued that the configuration of related categories on the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) contributes to the pervasive and often unintentional misrepresentation. The presentation of research experience in ERAS is confusing for applicants and inefficient for residency selection committees. Improvements by ERAS to the way information is entered and viewed may help reduce deliberate and unintended misrepresentation and offer a more efficient and accurate review for residency selection committees. In this letter, we present our suggestions.

For residency selection committees interested in applicants’ research efforts, the ideal system would clearly differentiate published from nonpublished manuscripts and peer-reviewed from non-peer-reviewed work, and also provide separate listings for manuscripts, posters, and oral presentations. The current system combines these into a single list, which invites duplication and misrepresentation. This could be improved by displaying separate subcategories or by implementing search and sort tools.

Published manuscripts should be directly imported from PubMed to ensure information integrity, and listed separately from prepublished manuscripts. As discussed in our recent article, prepublished manuscripts are problematic due to poorly defined and ambiguous labels. Medical students cannot be expected to distinguish between “in press,” “accepted,” and “provisionally accepted” categories, when even experienced academics cannot. A simpler system would be limited to the categories “published,” “accepted,” and “submitted” and provide definitions and examples for each.

The listing of poster and oral presentations is prone to duplication and could benefit from a hierarchical system with sublistings for repeat presentations and publications. Many applicants present the same project at medical school and national meetings. By listing both presentations separately, it gives the false impression that two distinct projects were presented. A similar problem occurs when society journals publish appendices listing society conference abstracts. These are not full-length manuscripts and go through an abbreviated review process. Double listing conference presentations as published manuscripts artificially inflates the applicant’s research efforts.

Inaccurate manuscript citations disrupt the ethos of the application process. We have proposed concrete solutions that ERAS should consider employing to make manuscript information simpler to enter and easier to interpret. We feel that these steps, in conjunction with improved medical school mentoring, will help to reduce both deliberate and unintentional inaccuracies by applicants.

Lars Grimm, MD, MHS

Resident physician, Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina; lars.grimm@duke.edu.

Charles Maxfield, MD

Professor, Departments of Radiology and Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

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Reference

1. Grimm LJ, Maxfield CM. Ultimate publication rate of unpublished manuscripts listed on radiology residency applications at one institution. Acad Med. 2013;88:1719–1722

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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